Youth Voice Youth Vote Day 2 & 3

Invigorated by the powerful connections forged the night before (and a bit exhausted from all staying up a bit too late…), we reconvened in the Grand Ballroom to meet an incredible array of civic leaders. These adult allies trekked out to the conference hotel to serve as respondents to students’ social action workshops in advance of their presentations the following day at schools throughout New York. Many many thanks to Erik Bottcher from City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s Office; Patrick Joseph from the Manhattan Borough President’s Office; Amy Richards from Feminist Camp and Soapbox Inc; Jerry Weinstein from Civic Hall; Arielle Del Rosario from Project Pericles; David Comer Kidd from Harvard’s Democratic Knowledge Project; Lindsay Bressman from Civic Spirit; Ross Dakin from the NJ Office of Innovation; Tony Hoffman from the Middle College National Consortium; and Mazin Sidahmed from Undocumented. Each gave brief overviews of who they are, what they do, and why this work is important.

We then split up to have youth present their workshops to each other in pairs with adult civic experts also giving them feedback.

After a popular pizza lunch (!), we broke into small cross-school groups for an array of high-engagement workshops, facilitated by another cadre of civic leaders. Check out the options and try not to salivate:

1. Ben Yee of the 66th Assembly District: Storytelling and Social Media

2. David Siffert of the Village Independent Democrats: You Want to Be in Politics? Be a Nuisance

3. Lindsay Bressman of Civic Spirit: Exercising Your Civic Voice, From our Country’s Founding to the Present Day

4. Sulu LeoNimm of Theater of the Oppressed: Using Drama to Send a Message

5. Lila Nordstrom of Vote Captain: Organizing Your Peers to VOTE

6. Chi-Ante Singletary of the Youth Engagement Fund: Mapping Power

7. Jade Arrindell of YVote and The Center for Racial Justice in Education: Organizing for Action

8. Jerry Weinstein of Civic Hall: Speaking and Writing to Convey Your Message

9. Ibrahim Abdul-Matin of Baruch College: The Meaning in Transitions

After the workshops, students reconvened in their school groups to incorporate feedback from the morning along with new schools developed in the afternoon to refine their workshops for the following day in NYC schools. Then, some rest before hitting the town–some went to Times Square, some to the High Line, some on tours of different parts of town. The common denominator? A good time was had by all.

Day 3

Friday morning started bright and early, with some groups needing to leave the hotel at 6:45AM to get to their respective schools. Others had to travel through three boroughs to get to theirs. But they all did so with smiles and experienced the buses and subways as an adventure. It was exciting to see so many students wearing our great Youth Voice, Youth Vote shirts designed by Pasang Bhuti and Jose Guzman from Middle College HS @ LaGuardia.

Student groups visited over a dozen schools across four boroughs! HERO High School in the South Bronx had its entire sophomore class participate in workshops. One cohort learned more about gun violence from a group from Academy of Health Sciences MCHS in MD; one learned about gentrification from a group from Contra Costa MCHS in CA; and one learned about environment, immigration, and gun violence–all grounded in how the issues relate to voting–from a group from Middle College HS @ LaGuardia.

The Academy of Health Sciences kicked off with a Social Activism-focused game of Human Bingo as a way to get to know one another and each other’s political interests and experiences.

They delivered a very powerful framing of their session.

Followed by a rousing conversation about why voting is important that surfaced reasons why some of the HERO students DON’T feel voting matters, and some productive conversation about why they each feel how they feel

Then they broke students up into small groups to work on coming up with ideas to tackle different aspects of gun control

Here’s what they came up with in their short time together

LaGuardia ingeniously organized their knowledge building through ‘zine making and a Jeopardy game. Check out some of their session

Meanwhile, Youth Voice, Youth Voice workshops transpired all around the city, like this one raising environmental awareness at the High School for Environmental Studies

It was a BEAUTIFUL day and students had the late afternoon to celebrate their successful workshops, relax, and wander through Central Park and various parts of NYC. We regathered as a group for an evening on Broadway viewing What The Constitution Means To Me, followed by a conversation with the dramaturge. A perfect way to end a perfect day as we strive to create a more perfect union…